Childhood Cancer: Youngsters to Run Marathon, Spread Courage over Adversity

Some youngsters who have overcome cancer have emerged with a new idea of running in the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon on Sunday to spread the message of triumph of courage over adversity.

Naveen, a 15-year-old blood cancer survivor, is running as the “Dream Maker” with a goal to raise Rs.1,50,000 in donations. “I am running to raise funds for the higher education of survivors like myself,” said Naveen, whose father, an idol maker, took a loan so that his son could pursue a lab technicians’ course in a polytechnic.

“Please see on YouTube a film another cancer survivor has made for me to help raise funds,” Naveen told IANS.

Likewise, many with the support of NGO Cankids….Kidscan, are participating in the half marathon to spread awareness and encourage others to espouse the cause of fighting childhood cancer.

“A total of 18 childhood cancer survivors, from 14 years to 31, have come together, each one on a mission to raise funds and awareness for treatment, support and care for childhood cancer patients across India,” Aditi Arya, grants manager at Cankids, told IANS.

Some of them are learning to cope with the late side effects of their cancer treatment. These can range from chronic fatigue, hearing loss, liver problems, hormonal problems, loss of fertility and heart disease to even relapse and secondary malignancies.

Meanwhile, Cankids spokesperson Kapil Chawla said the half marathon is a great event for all NGOs to be a part of. “With various corporate and individual supporters, media coverage and large volume of participants, it proves to be a great platform for fund raising and spreading awareness. An event like this is also a great opportunity for empowering the cancer survivors and engaging donors and supporters,” Chawla told IANS.

Cancer survivor Sumit, 31, who is working on a fertility project for childhood cancer patients and survivors, told IANS: “There are many things we were not told when we were detected with cancer. We have to learn and help the next generation of young cancer patients.”

Rahul, 20, an eye cancer survivor, said, “We are survivors of cancer and many of us are now leading normal lives. As survivors, we can do anything we set our minds to, a notion not everyone understands.”

The survivors, 13 of whom do not even have shoes to run in the event, have chosen to raise funds for medicines for children, higher education for survivors and rural cancer patients.

Their slogan for the marathon is: “There are some things we cannot do. This we can. You can support us too because you are able and because you can.”

Cancer survivor Ritu Bhalla, a KCK leader, has worked hard on making posters, flyers and film spots to support this initiative. “We are learning to run a professional campaign,” Bhalla told IANS.

She and her other colleagues are raising funds online through Cankids links on platforms of India Cares Foundation – the official philanthropy partner for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon – and offline through various individual donors.

According to a 2009 article in the Indian Journal of Cancer, childhood cancer accounts for less than five percent of India’s total cancer burden, with 45,000 new cases every year.

In developed countries, 95 percent of children with cancer are cured. “In our country, more than 40-70 percent of all cancers in children are getting cured due to increased awareness, timely detection, better treatment, care and support,” Cankids chairperson and colon cancer survivor Poonam Bagai told IANS.

Today Cankids has grown into a national society with 41 support units and five facilities working on childhood cancer in India.

(With inputs from IANS)


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